Archive for July, 2011

The cruelty known as “soring”

I know that this blog is normally about all things “birdlike”, however sometimes a story needs to be told.  There appeared in my inbox an email from a humane society about a movement to stop the cruel practice known as “soring”.  I am uninitiated in the ways of the horse show ring and know very little about breeds of horses, so the email got my interest.  Apparently, in show ring circles there is a horse – the Tennesse Walker.  Besides being a magnificant animal, it has long been the object of the cruel practice of “soring”.  The procedure involves wrapping the front hooves of the horse with a caustic solution, causing such anguish and pain that the horse can barely place its front hoofs on the ground. The ensuing “gait” of the horse becomes a “prance” where the horse raises the front hooves extremely off the ground and can barely return them without torture.  This “prance” is greatly valued in show circles…the higher and longer the hooves are held off the ground, the more exhubrant is the cheering crowd.  Another way to cause the horse to “prance” is to nail horseshoes on the front hooves, the horseshoes being filled with golf-balled sized inserts.  If you have ever tried to walk with a golf ball nailed into your instep…well, you get the idea.  More agony for the poor beast.  Yet another method of “soring” involves driving bolts into the horse’s front hooves. There exists in the archives a wonderful short film, produced by three senior girl scouts. The film explains in detail about “soring”.  The YouTube film is entitled  “Through My Eyes”.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqFeYu1CrjU  The official definition of “soring” is…The deliberate causing/inflicting of pain to the front legs/hooves of horses to create an exaggerated high stepping gait.”  Many Tennessee Walking Horse shows have been cited with violations of this animal cruelty, yet the practice continues.  However, public outcry is being heard. Most recently, in April 2011 four men were indicted for the inhumane practice of “soring” at a Tennessee Walking Horse Show competition.  The “Friends of Sound Horses”, a non profit organization, is striving valiantly to educate the public on the inhumane practice of “soring”.  There is much yet to be done, as the following photos will attest.  This is the second, and hopefully the last blog about animal cruelty for the month.  It would make me a far happier blogger to not have any such stories to post. 

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Spray Painted Birds

On the whole, I try to keep this blog “reader friendly”, with stories of rescues and the wonderful work of our volunteers.  But, this story is not one of those, nor is the second post of today.  It is about animal cruelty.  I spent a few days wondering if I should even post the blogs and the accompanying photos.  They are nasty, cruel and show the worst side of people’s inhumanity to creatures.  This first blog is about birds….On Friday, July 22 an apartment building on Pecos and Cooper here in the East Valley of Arizona received a new coat of paint.  The company doing the painting used spray guns.  Sadly, their workers (or perhaps it was only one of their workers) spray painted the birds that perched on the apartment ledges.  How difficult, one wonders, could it have been to “shoo” the birds away.  Or perhaps the worker(s) thought it great fun to see a harmless bird brutalized with a spray gun.  One will never know what went on in the minds of the those employees.  But the results were birds coated with toxic paint.  One of our volunteers received the birds and took a photo.  It is not for the faint hearted.  The question that remains is “Why?”  Was no one with a human heart supervising the workers?  Could no one step forward and say “Stop!”. One can only contemplate that on judgement day the person who did this will stand before a higher authority and be asked…Why?  There will be no good answer.

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Gabriela and Peeper-A Rescue Story

Gabriela feeding her 'orphan"

Peeper the white wing dove

Peeper ready to join his dove family

On Memorial Day 2011 Gabriela, age 9, found a bird’s nest on the ground. In the nest was a dead mother and dead baby bird, but miraculously the second baby bird had survived.  The birds were white winged doves (a larger species of the mourning dove).  Gabriela convinced her parents that they could save the second baby and rehabilitate it for a return to the wild.  The family did their research and began preparations for the rescue.  They prepared a box with paper towels and warm light and placed the box atop a heating pad. 

Their local pet store recommended a special food for orphaned baby birds.  The family, well actually mainly Gabriela,  began the tedious process of feeding the orphaned dove with a small straw. 

Against all odds, the orphaned white winged dove, now named Peeper,  managed to survive, grow feathers and learn to fly.  The major problem was that Peeper did not feed himself.

Gabriela found out about East Valley Wildlife and talked with Darlene, an experienced wildlife rehabilitator with EVW.  Darlene contacted Jeanni, another volunteer with EVW.  Jeanni is a quail specialist, who just happened to have some white winged doves that she was rehabbing. Gabriela agreed to entrust her beloved Peeper to Jeanni.  The dove was placed with other white wing doves in the hopes that Peeper would soon learn how to eat on his own.  It was also important for Peeper to be with other birds and learn more about being a dove so that he could be released together with his new dove family. Peepers thrived and although Gabriela had found it difficult to give up her “orphan”, the dove rescue was a great learning experience for the whole family. ….Could Gabriela be a “budding” volunteer for East Valley Wildlife?  Only time will tell. Our thanks to Gabriela, her family and others who take action when they find an animal that needs their help!

-Submitted by Darlene and Gabriela’s family.

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Welcome To Dove Central

East Valley Wildlife Director, Nancy, has been busy throughout the “dog days” of summer but managed to find time to send this article about one of our prolific native species…the dove.  The photo is Inca doves (one of the first species that I rescued many years ago). The Inca Dove is a smaller and more delicate version of the mourning dove (so named because of its plaintiff sound of “mourning”).

Submitted by Nancy:

Welcome to Dove Central.  Most of the birds we care for have decided that it’s just too darn hot in mid July to raise babies, but members of the dove family have other ideas.

About 95% of the calls we receive right now pertain to baby doves.  Ma and Pa Dove are devoted parents.  Both build the nest and take turns incubating their two eggs.  When the kids hatch, both parents produce a substance in their throat/crop called “crop milk” which really isn’t milk but a rich liquid loaded in protein and fat.  Baby doves grow rapidly and leave the nest at 11 or 12 days old.  No empty nest syndrome here; if the babies won’t leave by day 13, the parents will refuse to come to the nest to feed them.  They wait patiently on a nearby branch until the kids get hungry enough to flutter down to the ground.

 When they get to the ground , they hopefully find some protective shelter like a thick bush or ground cover.  The parents continue to feed them but they don’t stay with them.

A baby dove that leaves the nest at 11 days old will take about 4 days to become flighted.

They’re helpless against an assortment of predators including cats, dogs, kids, ants, and grackles.  They are especially vulnerable at night. 

 The majority of calls we are receiving right now deal with fledgling doves that have been attacked by cats or dogs.  Grackles are another major problem as they consider the young doves a handy food source.

 We also are receiving a lot of calls about “a dove that can’t fly so it must have a broken wing”.  As stated, the young doves are on the ground for several days before they can fly.

They should walk away from people if approached.  If you can walk up to a bird and pick it up easily, then it does need to be rescued.  Also consider the surroundings.  A playground or shopping center is not exactly ideal; neither is a tree full of grackles or a few cats sitting on a  nearby wall.

 Doves that are blown out of their nests during a wind storm or tree trimming can be renested.  Doves are the easiest birds to renest because the parents are so devoted.  A make shift nest out of a small natural fiber basket will do.  Put dried leaves/grass or pine needles in the bottom. Never use a cardboard box; for some reason this spooks the parents.  Plus it won’t be much use if a rain storm hits. 

 Make sure the baby(s) is alert and feels warm in the palm of your hand.  The nest doesn’t have to go in the original tree; just use a nearby tree but make sure it’s shady enough so the babies aren’t exposed to the direct sun.  The babies will make a soft whistly sound when they get hungry and the parents hone in on that like a GPS signal.  If the parents don’t find the nest after a few hours, then the baby should be taken to a rehabilitator.

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